Thursday, January 2, 2014
The difference a day makes
I don't know what it is about a new year that is so inspirational. In all reality, the first day of January doesn't hold any intrinsic magical powers that the last day of December lacks. But the idea of a blank slate, a clean start, is so appealing. We have a bookmark in time with each new year, and we can use those recently spent 365 days as a measuring stick to gauge where we are emotionally, physically, and spiritually.
When I look back at 2013 personally, I am especially grateful for a fresh opportunity to make deliberate changes. Twenty-thirteen was a very bizarre year for me. I spent much of it in an emotional haze, unable, and sometimes unwilling, to focus on anything with a purposed mind. My old companion, Depression, did her best to weasel her way back into my heart, and it took everything inside of me to lock her out. I didn't spend much time in the Word of God this year, either, and what time I did was very easily distracted. I chose more face-time with my computer or phone screen than with the living, breathing loves-of-my-life. I consistently agreed to do all kinds of things to help other people...things that while on the outside looked admirable, were not done with a cheerful heart or the proper motive, and therefore were not the blessing that they should have been. I'm a photographer, and I barely documented my little family's life last year. The one failure in particular that niggles at me more than all of the rest...I did not put God, my husband, and my beautiful boy ahead of my self. I gave last year to my self, and ironically, rather than the satiating happy-fest I've always imagined such selfishness to be, it was miserable and had dire consequences in several of my most cherished relationships.
As you can imagine, reality slapped me hard across the face a few months ago. And sadness. I was sitting quietly in my home, watching my sweet son entertain himself, and was a little taken aback by how much he's grown this year. His face looks different. He's losing the pudginess of babyhood, and is starting to discover his true passions. He has an incredibly unique mind, and a tender heart. He's hilarious. And I've been missing it because I'd rather spend countless hours pinning clothes I'll never wear, recipes I'll never cook, and quotes whose advice I'll never follow. Or worse, nosing into the lives of people I only superficially know, some of whom by name alone, by scrolling down the endless feed of on facebook, which consists primarily of negativity and the trivial. Wow. Talk about an epiphany. I spend more time with strangers than my own child. Not to mention my incredible husband, who selflessly gives all of himself to the both of us, even while returning home most days after an exhausting 10-hour workday. He doesn't have a facebook account at all because, after having one for less than a year, he felt convicted about the amount of time it took from us. Yikes.
So, over the last couple of months, I've been praying and thinking, and I've come up with a plan. A plan to love deliberately. A plan to stop fostering the countless perpetually superficial relationships in my life, and start developing true, deep friendships with the small handful of real-life connections in my life. A plan to give the majority of my time to God (it's all His anyway), and as He stretches my remaining minutes, to give those to my two loves at home, then the rest to whom He directs me. And what time He gives me for myself will be constructive.
Here's the plan:
I'm prioritizing God and my family above all else. This means that there are going to be many days on my calendar that are off-limits to anyone who doesn't share my last name or my heart. No more squeezing in as many things as I possibly can to avoid putting the focus where it needs to be. And I will be purposefully in the Word.
I'm deleting the majority of my "friends list" from my personal account. Eliminating the temptation of time-sucking-curiosity being my primary goal. I don't know many of these people well enough to be given a free pass into their personal lives, and likewise, they don't know me. We know of each other, but that's not the same.
I'm uninstalling facebook from my phone. No more being distracted by the siren's call of notifications all day. Because I have a business page, I'll leave the pages manager, but it'll be checked sparingly.
I'm giving my time deliberately and cheerfully. Before I say yes to anything, I'm going to think it through and figure out what my motive would be for doing so. What/who am I taking time away from in order to do this thing..? Is it a fair exchange, and do I have the right heart to bless someone by doing so?
I'm going to be deliberate in choosing my attitude every day. It's way too easy for me to get irritated and let insignificant things annoy the tar out of me. And it's a slippery slope. Once one negative thought gets its foot in the door, it invites its friends. So I will be internally chanting, "only love today" in perpetuity until it comes naturally and joyfully.
Looking forward into the newborn year, there is no way to imagine what is in store for all of us, but this one thing I do know for sure: this will be the year that I choose love over everything else.